The recruiting process was complicated for Taylor Currie and yet, in the end, it was remarkably simple.
When Currie signed a letter of intent Wednesday to join the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team as part of its 2018 class, the 6-foot-9 forward from Michigan was eager to do so because he found what he believes is the “perfect fit.”
Badgers coach Greg Gard, who announced the signing in a news release, agrees.
“Taylor’s recruitment intensified quickly and we could easily see that he fit in well with our culture not only on the court, but off the court and in the classroom as well,” Gard said in a statement. “When he visited Wisconsin, he impressed us with his maturity level and understanding of the process of how to have success as a Badger. I think he has an excellent chance to really develop and excel in our program.”
Back when the recruiting process was just starting to heat up for Currie, the Badgers appeared on his radar and he liked what he saw.
So did the Badgers, who were evaluating frontcourt players in the 2019 class last spring and had sent then-assistant coach Lamont Paris to watch Currie during his sophomore season in Clarkston, which is about 40 miles northwest of Detroit.
It seemed like a solid match — right up to the point a few months later when Currie orally committed to Michigan.
“My dad and I, before I committed to Michigan originally, we were like Wisconsin is just the best pure basketball fit for you,” Currie said this week. “It’s the absolute best basketball scenario just looking at the way I play and the way they play and their system, the swing, it seemed like a hand-in-glove fit almost. That was something we talked about a lot.”
Shortly after committing to the Wolverines, Currie announced plans to graduate a year early and reclassify to the 2018 class. Michigan already had two power forwards in its 2018 class, and Currie announced in September that he had de-committed from the Wolverines.
UW, meanwhile, was still looking for a big man after being rejected by Joey Hauser (Marquette) and Nate Laszewski (Notre Dame).
“Taylor is a very skilled post player with the ability to stretch defenses with his range to the 3-point line,” Gard said of Currie, who averaged 9 points, 8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game last season. “He’s both talented and hungry to get better, which are two important qualities we want in the young men in our program.”
Clarkston went 27-1 last season and won a Class A state championship, with Currie producing 16 points and 10 rebounds in the title game. His team this season will include a pair of future Michigan State teammates: point guard Foster Loyer and forward Thomas Kithier.
Currie began his prep career at Worthington (Ohio) Christian before moving to Michigan following his freshman season. He was ahead of schedule academically when he arrived at Clarkston and took three classes this summer so he could graduate a year early.
“It just seemed like it made a lot of sense,” Currie said of his decision to reclassify.
Currie will join a UW team next season that could include four senior frontcourt players: Ethan Happ, Andy Van Vliet, Charlie Thomas and Alex Illikainen. Based on that roster makeup and his decision to start college a year early — he turned 17 in August — Currie is a strong candidate to redshirt as a freshman in 2018-19.
“That’s definitely something that we’ve talked about and we’ve considered,” he said. “That would be great for me. Me coming in and redshirting next year and being able to get stronger and learning from those guys while they’re seniors and then the year after, my freshman year, having the opportunity to contribute in some capacity, I feel like that’d be great not only for myself but also my team.”
Currie will be joined in the 2018 class by Joe Hedstrom, a 6-10 center from the Minneapolis area. Hedstrom is expected to join the Badgers as a walk-on in 2018-19 before going on scholarship the following season.
UW can’t officially announce Hedstrom as a recruit until he officially enrolls next spring.
In the paint
Both members of UW’s starting backcourt, sophomores D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl, were full participants in practice Wednesday. Trice sat out the Badgers’ 85-56 exhibition victory over UW-Stout on Sunday after rolling his ankle a day earlier in practice. Pritzl sat out the final 11 minutes, 38 seconds of the game vs. Stout after limping off the floor with what appeared to be a left foot injury. … Freshman forward Nate Reuvers said Wednesday that he hasn’t decided whether or not to redshirt this season. Reuvers said he plans to sit down with Gard before UW opens the season Friday night vs. South Carolina State at the Kohl Center.